Coming soon to the Boston Harbor Islands: Wind turbines.
Governor Deval Patrick and other state officials plan to announce today the long-sought installation of wind turbines on Deer Island, home to Greater Boston’s sewage treatment plant. The Federal Aviation Administration recently signed off on two 190-foot wind turbines, with the possibility of three more in the future.
Compared with the Cape Wind project proposed for Nantucket Sound, the energy generated by the turbines would be tiny – the equivalent of keeping 12,000 60-watt light bulbs on four hours a day for a year.
Cape Wind’s 130 turbines, 440 feet tall, would generate the equivalent of three-quarters of the power needs of the Cape and Islands.
But unlike Cape Wind – heatedly opposed by many people who don’t want to see development in Nantucket Sound – nobody complained about the idea of turbines on Deer Island. The island is already heavily industrialized as the site of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s sewage treatment plant.
“I’m not aware of any opposition at all to this,” said Bruce Berman, spokesman with Save the Harbor Save the Bay. “There are 10-story, egg-shaped digesters of human waste out there.”
The MWRA had proposed building five 394-foot turbines. The FAA decided that was too tall for comfort at the island, just over 2 miles from Logan Airport, but issued a determination allowing two turbines at 190 feet tall – the same height as the sludge digesters they will accompany.)
The FAA also decided the MWRA could build the additional three turbines later assuming there are no problems with the first two structures. The chance to appeal the FAA decision ended yesterday. “We don’t see any opposition. They’re noncontroversial,” said MWRA executive director Frederick A. Laskey.
The authority is hoping to win grant funding for a portion of the $2.5 million estimated cost of the turbines and expects to save $106,000 in energy costs. At the same time, officials today are announcing the launch of a solar installation at Deer Island that could cut the MWRA’s energy costs by another $10,500 and eliminate 44 tons of carbon dioxide a year.
The MWRA obtained a no-interest state loan and a state grant to install the solar panels. It is already using methane from sewage to create steam and reusing the steam to make electricity.
“Especially with the craziness of the energy crisis, for us to be able to lock in a stable source of energy that is environmentally friendly, it has a number of advantages for us – including the ability to manage our budget,” said Laskey. “Instead of riding the rollercoaster of fuel and electricity prices, we’re locking in an ever-larger portion of our energy consumption into renewable energy that is fixed in cost. It’s a great advantage for our ratepayers.”
The solar installation on Deer Island is one of a dozen solar projects expected by the end of the summer by the state. Five are being built at community colleges or state universities, one at a veterans’ home, and five more at Department of Correction facilities.
The 12 projects are expected to generate just 1 megawatt of solar energy, enough to power 150 homes for a year. The state hopes to have 250 megawatts of solar energy within 10 years; it has just 5 megawatts now.
“It’s more of a leadership commitment from state government than it is a large portion of the total amount,” said Ian A. Bowles, secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. “Governor Patrick’s conviction is that state government needs to lead and this is good evidence of what can be done in the space of one short year.
By Stephanie Ebbert
7 April 2008